Stock Up, Stock Down for Atlanta Braves' Top 10 Prospects for Week 22
As the minor league season comes to a close, this stock watch will pay special attention to how the Atlanta Braves' top prospects are finishing. There have been a lot of ups and downs on this prospect stock watch this season, and many of those “downs” can be forgotten if the season ends on an “up.”
The Arizona Fall League rosters were announced this week, and none of the Braves top 10 prospects will be participating, though a couple of these players will be joining the major league club when rosters expand in September. But it’s odd that the team’s best prospects will not be appearing in the offseason’s premier prospect league.
One of those prospects who might have participated is injured right now, as No. 3 prospect Jose Peraza is currently on the disabled list with a leg injury. We’ll remove him from our watch list this week.
No. 10 Prospect: RP Juan Jaime
Stats since demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett: 2 saves in 6 games, 1.69 ERA, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K
Overview: Jaime has responded better to this latest demotion from the majors, than he did to his first demotion at the end of June. During that first trip back to Triple-A, he walked 13 batters in just over nine innings.
While he was with Atlanta during the early part of August, Jaime issued four walks in as many innings, which could be one possible reason he was demoted. No doubt the Braves told him to work on lowering the number of free passes he issues, and he certainly seems to have responded.
He’s pitching well enough to earn a call-up to Atlanta when rosters expand in September, and hopefully he can bring his lower walk totals with him.
2014 Stats: 18 saves in 43 games, 3.51 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 3.24 FIP, .181 BAA
No. 9 Prospect: SP Wes Parsons
Last Week’s Stats High-A Lynchburg: 0-1 in 2 starts, 6.52 ERA, 9.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 6 K
Overview: When considering last week’s numbers, it’s important to look at his two starts:
First start: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Second start: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K
His defense let him down in his first start, but the lone error was charged to him on an errant throw.
Those two starts are a microcosm of his season. Good starts are followed by bad starts, then followed again by good starts. Unfortunately, there have been too many bad starts.
It’s hard to know what to make of Parsons’ season. He’s suffered through some nagging injuries, going to the DL for several short stretches. We’ll have to see what the prospect outlets think of his stock this offseason.
2014 Stats: 4-7 in 23 starts, 5.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.19 FIP, .267 BAA
No. 8 Prospect: SP Jason Hursh
Last Week’s Stats at Double-A Mississippi: 0-1 in 1 start, 3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Overview: Hursh stumbled mightily this week, recording his first loss in nearly two months and allowing more than four runs for the first time since June 29. During that good span of 10 games, Hursh posted a 1.80 ERA.
That good run helped salvage a poor season for Hursh. And while it would have been nice to see him finish strong, we shouldn’t lose too much faith in him over one bad outing.
2014 Stats: 11-7 in 27 starts, 3.58 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.51 FIP, .267 BAA
No. 7 Prospect: 3B Kyle Kubitza
Last Week’s Stats at Double-A Mississippi: 3-for-15 (.200), 2B, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 CS
Overview: Kubitza is slowing down as the season comes to a close, but the work he’s already done this year has elevated his prospect status. Where he had a bunch of question marks, he's become to major-league ready.
While Kubitza is blocked at third base in Atlanta by Chris Johnson, the club’s expected personnel shakeup this offseason could place Kubitza in line for a job in the bigs.
He will need to be added to the Braves’ 40-man roster this offseason (to avoid the Rule 5 draft), making him one step closer to the majors.
No. 6 Prospect: SP J.R. Graham
Last Week’s Stats at Double-A Mississippi: No record in 2 relief appearances, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Overview: It was a good week for Graham, who worked two identical one-inning frames, striking out a batter each time.
Since moving from the rotation to the bullpen, it’s been an up-and-down month, but that was a continuation of his inconsistency as a starter.
It’s important for Graham to finish strong, if only for his own psychological well-being as a pitcher. He’s had nearly two lost seasons at Double-A, and a good finish (even in the bullpen) should set him up nicely for advancement to Triple-A next year.
2014 Stats: 1-5 in 27 games, 5.55 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 3.49 FIP, .275 BAA
Stock: Slightly up
No. 5 Prospect: Outfielder Braxton Davidson
Last Week’s Stats at High-R Danville: 2-for-10 (.200), 4 BB, 2 K
Overview: Atlanta’s first-round pick this year is certainly not hitting the cover off the ball, and he's struggled since moving from complex ball in Orlando (where he was hitting .243) to Danville (where he is hitting .167).
He has maintained his plus on-base ability, and that shows a promising approach at the plate that will serve him well as the organization challenges him with higher levels.
2014 Stats: .224/.387/.299, .314 BABIP, 22.6 K%, 16.7 BB%
No. 4 Prospect: SP Mauricio Cabrera
Last Four Games at High-A Lynchburg: 2.2 IP, 33.75 ERA, 5 H, 10 R, 7 BB, 3 K
Overview: Cabrera’s recent work has not been good. No one is on record as diagnosing what might be wrong with Cabrera, but looking at the stats we can infer that his command is off and bordering on broken.
In two of his last four outings he hasn’t recorded an out, while walking multiple batters.
This poor finish to his season, plus the move from the starting rotation to the bullpen, should have Cabrera falling down the Atlanta prospect list.
2014 Stats: 1-1 in 19 games, 5.59 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 4.41 FIP, .224 BAA
No. 2 Prospect: C Christian Bethancourt
Last Week’s Stats at Triple-A Gwinnett: 11-for-21 (.524), 2B, HR, 5 K, 2 SB
Overview: With September call-ups almost here, Bethancourt is making the case for his name to be the first one the Atlanta Braves call. He has hit safely in all five games since coming off the 7-day disabled list after taking a foul ball off of his hand.
Bethancourt looks to be hungry at the plate, and if that good hitting continues, he will absolutely find his way into a lot of playing time in Atlanta this September.
A strong showing over the next four weeks should convince the Braves that Bethancourt is ready to be a full-time major league catcher and that Evan Gattis can be traded away to fill other needs.
2014 Stats: .284/.308/.413, .319 BABIP, 16.6 K%, 3.4 BB%
No. 1 Prospect: SP Lucas Sims
Last Week’s Stats at High-A Lynchburg: 0-1 in 1 start, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 1 K
Overview: It’s been a disappointing year for Sims. After a spectacular debut in full-season ball at Low-A Rome last season (2.62 ERA), the promotion to High-A has not been as good.
Sims’ numbers are up in just about every category. One stat that has remained the same is his batting average on balls in play. Last season’s .283 BABIP is nearly identical to this season’s .282 number. Considering his .247 batting average against this year is much higher than last year’s .198 BAA, we can infer that opposing hitters are simply getting bigger hits against Sims (with many of them leaving the park). His opponents’ slugging percentage is 100 points higher this year (.286 to .389).
That .389 SLG is not terribly high, so Sims is not getting hit hard all the time, just enough to do maximal damage. Hopefully this is something that can be improved upon next season.
2014 Stats: 7-11 in 27 starts, 4.36 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 4.56 FIP, .247 BAA